SOCIOLOGY 001 De Anza College Rules of the Rigged Game Final Projects

Part I: Overview

This is a project-based portion of your final. This part of the final was inspired by Michael Schwalbe’s (p. 133) observation in Rigging the Game that we are “poorly trained in the techniques of democracy. If we’ve never been taught how to do it, the prospect of trying to negotiate our way to collective decisions that everyone can live with seems daunting. In the United States, the only technique of democracy that most people learn is voting, which works under some conditions but often allows conflicts to go unresolved and resentments to persist beneath the surface of relationships. So when it comes to enacting real democracy, it’s as if we are equipped with kitchen knives and told to go hunt bears.” In the spirit of getting some training in the techniques of democracy, I am asking you to observe how local democracy works firsthand. It is at the local level that individuals and groups can have their voices most amplified and can see their impacts in a tangible way.

For Part 1, you will

  • attend a local city or county government meeting (either virtually or in-person depending on the circumstances),
  • take detailed handwritten notes on what you see and hear,
  • take a time-stamped selfie and/or screenshots throughout the meeting, or provide some other type of documentation that shows you attended the full meeting
  • download the agenda for the meeting
  • write a typed 1-page reflection on what you learned, and
  • submit your notes, selfies agenda, and reflection here on Canvas no later than 6/23 at midnight

Choose a local government meeting to attend

Download and read the agenda for the meeting(s) you are considering attending. Also keep checking the website for meeting cancellations or to see if it has been closed to the public. It is optimal if you can attend a local government meeting in the city/town where you actually live (though I understand that may not be possible). Please reach out to me if you need help locating a local government meeting. Here are potential meetings you can visit:

City of Santa Clara government meetings: (Links to an external site.)

  • Civil Service Commission 6/14 7pm
  • Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 6/14 7pm
  • Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting 6/15 7pm
  • Planning Commission 6/16 6pm
  • City-School Liaison Committee 6/23 11:45am

City of San Jose government meetings: (Links to an external site.)

  • Neighborhood Services and Education 6/10 1:30pm
  • City Council 6/15 1:30pm
  • Joint Meeting for the Rules and Open Government Committee 6/16 2pm
  • Public Safety, Finance and Strategic Support 6/17 1:30pm
  • City Council 6/22 1:30pm
  • Joint Meeting for the Rules and Open Government Committee 6/23 2pm

City of Cupertino government meetings: (Links to an external site.)

  • City Council meeting 6/15 6pm
  • Bicycle Pedestrian Commission 6/16 7pm
  • Environmental Review Committee 6/17 9:30am
  • Design Review Committee 6/17 5pm
  • Legislative Review Committee 6/18 11am
  • City Council meeting 6/21 5:30pm
  • Planning Commission 6/22 6:45pm

City of Mountain View government meetings: (Links to an external site.)

  • Performing Arts Committee 6/16 6:15pm
  • Environmental Planning Commission 6/16 7pm
  • Library Board 6/21 7pm
  • City Council meeting 6/22 6:30pm
  • Administrative Zoning Hearing 6/23 4pm

Milpitas City Council meeting: (Links to an external site.)

  • City Council 6/15 7pm

Santa Clara County government meetings: (Links to an external site.)

  • Behavioral Health Board 6/14 12pm
  • Roads Commission 6/14 12:30pm
  • Board of Supervisors Budget Meeting 6/14 1:30pm
  • Fish and Game Commission 6/14 6pm
  • Commission on the Status of Women 6/14 6:30pm
  • Board of Supervisors Budget Meeting (cont) 6/15 1:30pm
  • Finance and Governmental Operation 6/16 2pm
  • Juvenile Justice Systems Collaborative—Race Equity through Justice Systems Workgroup 6/16 3:30pm
  • Veterans Commission 6/17 1pm
  • Board of Supervisors 6/17 1:30pm
  • Commission on Equal Access and Employment Opportunity 6/17 6pm
  • Historical Heritage Commission 6/17 6:30pm
  • Board of Supervisors 6/22 9:30am
  • Social Services Advisory Commission 6/23 9am

The Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees: (Links to an external site.)

  • 6/14 6pm

Something that might also be of interest:

Since August, the San Jose Unified Equity Coalition (Links to an external site.), demanding that the San Jose Unified School District formally end contracts with police and invest in student wellness. There are just two School Board meetings in June to attend:

  • Thursday, June 10th at 6pm
  • Thursday, June 24th at 6pm

The Board meetings are in person at the District Office, 855 Lenzen Ave San Jose 95126 (Links to an external site.). Reach out to me personally via Canvas message if you are interested in either of these meetings. Obviously the second meeting is after the deadline for the final, but I would be willing to consider this as an option if you are very very motivated around this issue.

There are likely other school board meetings in other districts that might also be interesting to attend. Do an internet search if you want to find out their meeting schedules.

If you are interested in another city, try an internet search or try substituting your city name in the pattern of the websites above: (Links to an external site.)

NOTE: If you are seriously motivated to learn more about community organizing, there is one alternative for this assignment that is not a local government meeting. If you are interested in this option, email Jen directly to inquire.

Attend and Document the Meeting

There are three forms of documentation to make of this meeting:

  • Download the agenda and any other supporting documents posted for the meeting
  • Take detailed handwritten notes about what happens in the meeting
  • Take time stamped selfies and/or screenshots to indicate that you were present for the full meeting

Write a reflection that connected what you observed to our course material

Write a one page (250 words minimum) typed reflection that makes connections between what you observed at the meeting you attended to our readings from Rigging the Game, to Read & Riot, and/or to any of the lectures, films or podcasts throughout the quarter and put what you observed in a sociological context.

What to submit

Be sure to upload the following documents:

  • your handwritten notes
  • the agenda and any other documents posted publicly about your meeting
  • your timestamped selfies/screenshots documenting your attendance
  • your typed written reflection

    Part II: The Prompt

    For this assignment, I am asking you to make an argument about how we can change the rules of a rigged game. You will use Rigging the Game and/or our lessons on Canvas to identify and analyze ONE specific rigged “rule of the game” that reproduces either class, race or gender stratification through social structure or cultural ideology. Then you will apply ideas from Read & Riot or our lessons in Weeks 10 and 11 to make specific recommendations about how people could change this rigged rule to make social systems more fair.

    What Materials You Can and Need to Use

    This assignment is open note and open book. You must discuss our course readings and materials directly in your assignment, including quotations and paraphrases. Fully explain any sociological ideas you introduce. Your assignment should demonstrate that you have understood, integrated and synthesized the ideas in this course. Imagine writing or making this for a De Anza student who has NOT taken this class: what context, explanation and background would you need to give in order for your points to make sense?

    An essay

    This essay should be at least 400 words, typed and doublespaced. Include an introductory paragraph that hooks the reader and introduces us to the rigged rule you will be discussing. Your overall argument/thesis will be supported in the body of the essay by P.I.E. paragraphs, which is the most common type of paragraph style in sociology. Here is explanation of the P.I.E. paragraph format:

    • Your paragraphs should take the form of PIE paragraphs: Point/Illustration/Explanation.
    • Your Points should be subpoints related to the two rigged rules you are focusing on.
    • Provide plenty of textual Illustrations (examples) using quotes/paraphrases from our course materials that best illustrate and support your Points.
    • Explain/Analyze: your point, the examples/quotations/evidence you use, how your points relate to each other, and how the examples/quotations/evidence you use illustrate your points.
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